Mary Ratcliff 
Member since Dec 23, 2009


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Re: “KPFA Radio Meltdown

This Express story is riddled with errors and nonsense. The very first sentence calls Pacifica the "parent funder" of KPFA, when it's really the other way around. Pacifica is funded by its stations, with KPFA the financial pillar of the network.

How does the number of online listeners measure the audience for any show? KPFA isn't primarily a website; it's a radio station. Sure, online listeners are part of the picture, but it makes no sense that even people who listen to KPFA live online would be likely to do so at drive time. They're driving, so they're listening on the radio, no?

And measuring the value of a show by the pledges it raises is not legitimate if we're to believe the many announcements I've heard on KPFA that contributors should feel free to call in their pledges during any show, that shows aren't evaluated by the money raised while they're on the air and that contributions are being made to KPFA, not one show or another. If that game has changed, we're all entitled to know the new rules.

Most importantly, the Express makes no mention of not only the higher cost and greater work involved in investigative journalism but its value in prestige for KPFA and influence in world affairs. Flashpoints is the only independent syndicated investigative news show in the country that I know of; killing it leaves the Fourth Estate mortally wounded.

I just checked "Fourth Estate" on Wikipedia, and here's Carlyle's definition from his book, "French Revolution" (1837), "A Fourth Estate, of Able Editors, springs up; increases and multiplies, irrepressible, incalculable." That sounds like Flashpoints to me.

If KPFA is not a force for justice and progress and the worthy goals described in the Pacifica mission, if "popularity" is its only reason for being, then why would we as activists waste our time? KPFA listeners keep listening and KPFA producers keep producing because, as well as we know KPFA's fault, we are driven by its potential.

I'm willing to fight for Flashpoints and Hard Knock Radio and Full Circle and whatever shows are targeted next because they give a glimpse of what great, world-changing radio can be. When management tries to destroy the best programs KPFA has to offer - on top of its elimination of the Program Council and the Unpaid Staff Organization and its efforts to dismantle democratic governance - don't you wonder whether the real target is KPFA itself? Is that what the Express is applauding?

Mary Ratcliff, editor
San Francisco Bay View newspaper

P.S. Since the East Bay Express and KPFA's Rijio regime choose to use website traffic as a measure of audience popularity, I just compared the website traffic of and and our site, KPFA and the Bay View are running neck in neck, with the Express somewhat higher but not a lot. Considering that KPFA, despite its current fiscal woes, and the Express are vastly better funded and staffed than the Bay View, which primarily serves the Black community, maybe KPFA and the Express could increase their popularity by putting more time and effort - and even money - into covering issues important to the Black community. Or is attacking Minister of Information JR Valrey (see "JR Valrey Is an Agent Provocateur" in the April 8 Express), who is the Bay View's associate editor and whose Block Reports are frequently heard on Flashpoints and other KPFA shows, a better way to build popularity and audience share?

Posted by Mary Ratcliff on 12/23/2009 at 10:09 PM

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